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Republican Herald Editorial: Gas Industry Appeased Too Long

The following editorial was published in the Republican Herald on December 19, 2022--

That didn’t take long.

Just months after the massive, taxpayer-subsidized Shell petrochemical refinery in Butler County began operations, the state Department of Environmental Protection has cited it for substantial air pollution.

The plant uses ethane, a byproduct of Marcellus Shale natural gas extraction, to produce plastic. Shell has not disclosed the refinery’s development and construction cost, but industry analysts have said it is at least $6 billion.

More certain is the amount that Pennsylvania taxpayers have contributed to the project through tax subsidies — $1.7 billion.

Those subsidies always were controversial because they conflict with official state policy.

The state and federal governments have committed to trying to reduce fossil fuel consumption in the cause of mitigating harmful climate change, wheras the massive subsidies encourage and reward fossil fuel production on a massive scale, to produce plastic.

The plant officially began operating in November after gearing up since early September.

According to the DEP, the refinery exceeded the levels of air pollution allowed by its state air quality permit for two consecutive months.

In September alone, according to DEP data, the plant released 492 tons of volatile organic compounds, 95% of its annual limit. By the end of November, it had released 662.9 tons.

The DEP has ordered Shell to produce an analysis of the excessive emissions and a mitigation plan, and will not decide on an enforcement action until it receives them.

Meanwhile, the episode illustrates the undue eagerness of too many state lawmakers to accommodate gas-related enterprises, regardless of the cost. And Shell was just the first of a wave of gas-consuming enterprises to receive massive state subsidies; hundreds of millions of dollars more are in the pipeline.

Such subsidies should not exist in their own bubble, insulated from developments after the state awards them to developers. Rather, they should be tied to the resulting enterprises actual performance, with subsidies being reduced with every violation.

Pennsylvanians long have endured massive pollution from extractive industries, often paying for it with their health. They should not have to subsidize it up front.

(Photo: From Shell Plant flaring video by Carnegie Mellon’s Project Breathe.)


-- Post-Gazette - Anya Litvak: Shell’s Flaring At Beaver County Petrochemical Plant Pushed Company Over Air Permit Limits, Data Shows

-- Beaver Times: Regulators Say Shell Exceeded Emissions Cap During Cracker Plant Startup

-- New Castle News: DEP: Opening Of Shell’s Western PA ‘Cracker’ Plant Caused Pollutants To Spike

-- The Allegheny Front - Reid Frazier: Shell Air Pollution Soars During Startup Of Beaver County Ethane Plant

-- Post-Gazette Guest Essay: The Shell Petrochemical Plant In Beaver County Shows How Western PA Benefits When Govt., Business Work Together - PA Chamber Of Commerce & Industry

-- PA Capital-Star Guest Essay: It’s Time Pennsylvania Residents, Regulators Demand Health Risks From Shale Gas Fracking Be Addressed - By Clean Air Council

-- TribLive Guest Essay: I’ve Seen Firsthand How Harmful Methane Pollution From Oil & Gas Industry Can Affect Our Health - Physicians For Social Responsibility Pennsylvania

Related Article:

-- DEP Issues Notice Of Violation To Shell Petrochemical Plant In Beaver County For Air Quality Violations In Sept. - Oct.

DEP Public Notice Dashboards:

-- Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Weekly Compliance Dashboard - Dec. 17 to 23 [PaEN]

-- PA Oil & Gas Industrial Facilities: Permit Notices/Opportunities To Comment [PaEN]

-- DEP Posted 48 Pages Of Permit-Related Notices In The Dec. 24 PA Bulletin [PaEN]

Related Articles This Week:

-- Oil & Gas Industry Impacts: Navy Veterans Patrick & Helen Robinson Relate Their 7-Year Struggle Dealing With Impacts Of Mariner East Pipeline Construction In Indiana County, And They Continue  [PaEN]

-- Oil & Gas Industry Impacts: Cambria County Family Sues Sunoco After 3 Years Of Dealing With Damage To Home, Well, Septic System, Property From Mariner East Pipeline Construction  [PaEN]

-- Oil & Gas Industry Impacts: Families Affected By Alleged ‘Frack-Out’ In Greene County Have A Little Happier Holiday Thanks To Water Donated By Center For Coalfield Justice  [PaEN]

-- Republican Herald Editorial: Gas Industry Appeased Too Long [PaEN] 

-- Concerned Health Professionals Of PA Ask Health Professionals To Sign Letter Urging Gov.-Elect Shapiro To Protect Public Health, Environment From Impacts Of Oil & Gas Industry  [PaEN]

-- Susquehanna River Basin Commission Approves Oil & Gas Development, Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant Water Withdrawal Requests  [PaEN]

-- League Of Women Voters, Partners Host Jan. 12 Webinar On LNG Natural Gas Export Terminal Safety  [PaEN]

-- UGI Asks Natural Gas Customers To Conserve Energy Use Due To Regional Natural Gas Supply Constraints  [PaEN] 

-- PJM Interconnection ‘Possibility Of Rotating Customer Electricity Outages Is Real’ -  A Mix Of Power Plants In The System Are ‘Not Performing’ - Filing DOE Emergency Power Request  [PaEN]


-- Inside Climate News - John Hurdle: Dimock Residents Fear New Methane Contamination As PA Lifts Shale Gas Drilling Ban In Susquehanna County

-- Bob Donnan Blog: Is The Public Being ‘Dimocked’ Again On Shale Gas?

-- Carnegie Mellon, Other Partners In Project Breathe Wish Southwest PA Residents Happy Holidays By Showing Memorable Moments In 2022  [Video]

-- PA Capital-Star Guest Essay: It’s Time Pennsylvania Residents, Regulators Demand Health Risks From Shale Gas Fracking Be Addressed - By Clean Air Council

-- TribLive Guest Essay: I’ve Seen Firsthand How Harmful Methane Pollution From Oil & Gas Industry Can Affect Our Health - Physicians For Social Responsibility Pennsylvania

-- Pittsburgh Business Times: Better Path Coalition Wants More Information On DEP’s Settlement On Illegal Dumping 1,831 Truck Loads Of  Oil & Gas Waste In Fayette County

-- Pittsburgh Business Times: Newsweek Ranks These Pittsburgh-Based Companies Among ‘Most Responsible In US  [Including Equitrans whose natural gas storage facility in Cambria County had a 1 billion cubic feet release of natural gas]

-- The Allegheny Front: ‘We Do Have Questions To Answer’ About Single-Use Plastic Waste, Shell Internal Emails Reveal

-- Marcellus Drilling News: Southwest PA Landowners Settle Class Action Lawsuit With Chief Oil & Gas For $5.5 Million

-- Pennsylvania #28 On List Of States With Most Expensive Natural Gas Heating Bills

-- StateImpactPA - Rachel McDevitt: PA Natural Gas Prices Rise [94.7%] As Production Falls, Report Says

[Posted: December 19, 2022]


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